Fall of a Roman Empire

“The media mogul served as Italy’s prime minister multiple times beginning in 1994, and his flamboyant lifestyle left a mark on popular culture, while his abrasiveness, coarseness, populist style, and constant legal woes trashed political norms and tainted Italy’s image in the world.” Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, has died at the age of 86.

+ See if this description of Berlusconi from Yascha Mounk in The Atlantic (Gift Article) sounds at all familiar: “His enemies consistently underestimated him because of his crassness, and drove voters into his arms by making all too evident their disdain for his supporters. He masterfully made political conflicts all about him and turned judicial proceedings to his advantage by casting himself as a martyr, likening himself to Jesus Christ. Although he consistently failed to deliver on his promises to reverse economic stagnation and political decline, he was able to retain the loyalty of a large segment of the population and dominate Italian politics for two decades.” The Corrosive Legacy of Silvio Berlusconi. “Berlusconi’s greatest triumph is not that he became prime minister of Italy on three occasions, or that he was a senator when he died, or that he remained a free man and one of the richest people in the country despite all the prosecutions—and convictions. It is that he was the principal founder of a tradition of demagogic politics that has defined the modern era in some of the world’s largest democracies, including Turkey, Brazil, India, and even the United States.”

+ Trump is like a performer of Berlusconi cover songs. Consider Silvio’s reaction when he was expelled from the Italian Senate in 2013: “No political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through.”

+ And of course, there were the Bunga Bunga parties.

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